Hey blog readers, tonight I’m going to introduce you to something absolutely amazing. Well, actually I’m going to ask you to help support a hiker friend of mine, but beyond that you’re going to want to take note and follow what he’s doing this summer, because it’s pretty damn cool.
I first met this dude named “Out of Order” (Daniel Alvarez) on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2007. If memory serves me, we both stayed with legendary trail angels the Saufley’s in Agua Dulce, California at the same time, and I know we also crossed paths while staying with the Anderson’s up at Casa de Luna. From there we bounced around a bit through the Sierra. I remember sharing a mosquito infested campsite just before Mammoth, and I think Out of Order probably pulled ahead of me for good when I took a couple zero days in that town.
Regardless of the when’s and where’s, we met as hikers do at some seemingly random juncture of adventures, and he immediately struck me as a good guy. He came off as humble, soft spoken and just as most others you meet while on a thru-hike, seemed both enthralled in and appreciative of the journey he was on. It wasn’t until later that I began to piece together Out of Order’s story. Apparently the guy was a Yale law student who had cut out early on his final semester to come hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Rumor had it he carried some crumpled notes to study and pulled off the trail for a few days to fly back and take his final exams. In addition, he had one of the truly great trail name stories from that year. When flying west to start the PCT, he ran into some weather delays and shuffled flights, which led to the loss of his luggage; aka all of his backpacking gear. This is definitely not how you want to start a thru-hike attempt, and would have been enough to deter most people and send them running back to Yale, or at least some community college somewhere. Not Mr. Alvarez. He just rolled with the punches and was rewarded with an early helping of west coast trail magic as area trail angels, hearing of his dilemma, lent him all of the equipment he would need to start the hike. As a joke, Girl Scout, one of those who provided the gear gave him a pin to wear that said “Temporarily Out of Order.” And a trail name was born.
Through our brief interactions in passing and the stories told by others, it became pretty clear that Out of Order was one of those extraordinary people who stood out, even amongst the three hundred or so extraordinary others who were also attempting the hike that year. He left enough of an impression that after my hike ended, in that difficult period of transition when I was jonesing hard for the trail, I looked up and read his online journal to get my postpartum hiker fix. On top of everything else, he is an EXCELLENT writer. I was thoroughly impressed.
With the exception of becoming friends on Facebook, I can’t say I kept in touch with Out of Order after the PCT. I have however, followed (with envy) as he has continued hiking, adding the Continental Divide and the Hayduke Trails to his resume. Now, this summer, it seems I’m going to be jealous again.
This season, Out of Order is embarking on a different kind of adventure. I think he actually started yesterday, up in Northern Minnesota, and will be KAYAKING FROM THERE TO KEY WEST FLORIDA!
Rather than try to explain it, I’ll simply direct you to his blog, http://predictablylost.com/ Make sure you read his story, and make extra sure you scroll down and watch the video clip to get a true sense of his creativity and sense of humor. It’s good stuff, and a taste of what you can expect if you follow his blog this summer. And trust me… you want to.
So that’s the introduction and some of the support part I alluded to in the opening paragraph, but there’s a little more. And this part is pretty damn cool, too. Based on this proposed voyage, Out of Order has been selected as one of five finalists to receive a ten thousand dollar adventure grant from Outside Magazine. Better yet, the winner will be determined by Facebook vote, and he’s currently out in front. However, voters are allowed to enter once daily through June 17, and some of the other finalists are rallying support to make a late push. Please, if you are a Facebook user, go to this link, register, and vote for Daniel Alvarez, Paddling the Heart of America, each day from now until Sunday. It’s an awesome concept, he’s a great person, and this is definitely an adventure to get behind.
I’m really excited to follow along with Out of Order through his blog (notice it’s a WordPress site for those users.) This is a unique journey, but actually pretty closely parallels a life dream I have, something I’ve carried and kept to myself since even before I became a hiker. It’s good to know that I’ll have a friend out there with some experience to offer advice when my time comes. And I’m also hoping to connect with Out of Order to see how I can be of assistance when he cruises past on the Mississippi later this summer. I don’t know if that will entail giving him a place to stay if he wants to get off the river for a spell, or dropping a pizza off the Arsenal Bridge; but in giving back and honoring that spirit of the journey, Cris and I will be here to offer whatever he needs.